Southborough Valley Community Archaeology Project


Friday, 5 February 2016

SHAAS acquires vast flint assemblage

The society is delighted to announce that it has received a generous donation of flint artefacts dating back over 10,000 years. The vast assemblage of over 800 unique pieces of worked flint has been gifted to the society by Mr David Lambert. The collection was amassed by Mr Lambert of a period of nearly 50 years of field-walking.  

A small sample of the flints donated to the society

An example of one of the pieces
The flints will form part of the handling collection which the society will use for educational purposes. The artefacts donated are from the second tier of Mr Lambert’s vast collection. These tools were made by the process of “knapping.” Knapping will always leave similar scars on stone artefacts, regardless of whether they are the work of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, or elaborate Bronze Age dagger blades.These pieces of worked flint exhibit characteristics such as retouching, percussion marks, bi-faces and bulbs which will help to teach people, young and old, about stone tool technologies

In 2005 a group of Finds Liaison Officers from the Portable Antiquities Scheme visited Mr Lambert’s home to record the function, date, material and location of his finds. The information was then uploaded onto a national database. This allows the Lambert assemblage to be used by researchers who want to understand more about the archaeological landscape of the Tunbridge Wells district. Click here to see examples of Mr Lambert's collection on the PAS website.

Mr Lambert explaining what he finds so interesting about these finds

Below is an extract from a talk on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Mr Lambert gave in 2007 at the British Museum:
I am not a trained archaeologist but by field-walking in my spare time, mainly between 1960 and 1980, I collected thousands of prehistoric flint artefacts, marking most of them with six-digit map references. The majority came from the hilly east-central core of the Weald, the eroded anticline forming South-East England south of the River Thames. In relation to the time spent and area covered the number of finds is not great and without a stratigraphic context most cannot be dated more closely than to between 10,000 and 4,000 years ago. But between them at least they indicate Mesolithic, Neolithic, and possibly Bronze Age activity in several localities where I believe none had been recorded before.   
Searching was helped by the fact that flint does not occur naturally among the clays and sandstones of the central Weald.  All that is found there had to be brought by people, who had to transport it 30 kilometres or so from the north or the south, where flint does occur naturally as nodules in and on the chalk escarpments of the North and South Downs and in the Thames river terraces.
I began my field-walking by searching the sandy tracks of a forest near a group of published Late Mesolithic rock-shelter finds. I knew of no published report of open-air sites from the forest itself but found many hundred artefacts on certain parts of some tracks. Most were thin waste flakes, but there were also microliths, blades, scrapers, cores, core-rejuvenating flakes, burnt cores from hearths or possibly used as pot-boilers, and in another part of the forest a fragment from a polished flint axe-head. Apart from that the material was mostly Mesolithic in character.  
Later I explored ploughed fields in a wider area with mixed results. Most heavy clay soils proved unproductive, but hundreds of items appeared in the hillside fields of quite heavy soil around my home overlooking the River Teise valley near the village of Lamberhurst in the county of Kent. Finds here have included blades, scrapers, burins, microliths, cores, micro-cores, leaf-shaped and tanged-and-barbed arrowheads, and a polished axe-head fragment. A backed blade and other artefacts even turned up in my garden. This varied material probably includes Mesolithic, Neolithic and perhaps even Bronze Age items.
Searching for flints in the east-central Weald is now less productive than when I did most of my looking more than 20 years ago. So I am glad that I field-walked when I did, and very pleased that because I had marked items with their provenance, the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s finds liaison officers for Kent and Sussex have thought it worthwhile to put them on record. Without this national archive, collections like mine would be undocumented, and become forgotten and lost.    
 David Lambert 

Robert Falvey of SHAAS receives part of Mr Lambert's collection  
Robert Falvey, Chair of SHAAS, was delighted to accept Mr Lambert's donation of flint artefacts:
"I was blown away by the amount of flints David has collected over the years. I'm particularly interested in the pieces he retrieved from the Southborough area. We have more flint artefacts now than if we spent a whole year excavating at High Rocks"  
The collection is going to be used as part of the society's outreach to schools. SHAAS will be accepting school visits to the site during the summer term. The next season of digging will be starting in May. If you would like to take part in the forthcoming excavations in Southborough then please contact the society via the blog or email

Please visit the website for more information.

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